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VoIP Switch - Are You Protecting Your VoIP Switch?

July 11, 2013


The benefits of the VoIP switch have long been accepted by the telecommunication industry. Companies can enjoy a seamless communication experience that significantly lowers the cost of staying in touch, while also enjoying access to integrated application opportunities that can make every day processes a little easier to accomplish.

Whenever something is sent over the public Internet, however, there is always a cause for concern that the connection may be vulnerable to hacking. This is a real worry for companies everywhere trying to protect their information and maintain a professional approach in operations, whether in the office or on the go.

To that end, let’s take a look at the current VoIP switch security features in place, what can be implemented and what weaknesses or vulnerabilities exist that actually make this technology a potential problem.

According to Network World (News - Alert), security is important in the use of the VoIP switch, as companies are in essence replacing the oldest, largest and most resilient communications network. There currently is no single security measure that can eliminate VoIP deployment attacks completely, but a layered approach does help to deliver a meaningful reduction in the probability that an attack will be successful.

Even encryption solutions currently in place may harbor vulnerabilities. Consider a recent Computer World post that highlighted problems with ZRTPCPP. The open-source library used by a number of different applications offering end-to-end encrypted phone calls has been found to contain three vulnerabilities. Each of these weaknesses could have enabled denial of service attacks and arbitrary code execution. This very application, designed to protect calls made over VoIP extensions, could be an invitation for predators looking to do damage.

It doesn’t help that project PRISM news broke recently, demonstrating that the NSA has been gathering millions of phone call data packets from citizens throughout the country. While the NSA claims these activities have thwarted more than 50 terrorist attacks against the U.S. since 9-11, the American public is not so forgiving over the intrusion. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a method of communication that is completely safe from this type of intrusion.

Regardless, security is still needed when the VoIP switch is present, for no other reason than the threat of call fraud. Hackers can easily send calls pretending to be someone else, routing long distance, international and premium rate calls, generating a substantial financial loss in a very short period of time. It’s often a target of choice for the hacker as they collect all the fees from their “customers”, yet have no bills to pay.

ShoreTel (News - Alert) recently shared keen insight into the best way to protect the VoIP connection. The provider recommends that you know your core security objectives; take a strategic approach to information security; follow best practices in terms of network security; take the means to protect against eavesdropping; take an upfront approach to addressing SIP security concerns; secure all mobile devices; prevent abuse and fraud; perform security maintenance on a regular basis; and consider the security architecture of the UC platform.

The reality is that the VoIP switch can deliver significant value within the corporate environment. You just have to take the necessary steps to protect it, your network and your users.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

VoIP Switch - VoIP Comes of Age in the Enterprise

Traditional phone lines might have their place in a highly connected society, but the truth of the matter is, to stay afloat in a competitive business landscape, one needs a bit more than a plain old telephone system (POTS).

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